Factors affecting oral health status in an elderly military veteran population in New Zealand
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Background: Oral health care provision for aged-care facility residents remains problematic worldwide, with both institutional and professional barriers preventing regular provision of this service. Purpose: To identify factors affecting the oral health status of elderly war veterans which are different from those reported for non-veteran aged-care facility residents. Methods and Materials: A small pilot study of 30 aged-care facility residents was performed at a dedicated rest home and hospital for war veterans in Dunedin, New Zealand. The study included data collection and a clinically-based head, neck and oral examination for each of the participating residents to establish a base-line. Oral health data were then integrated with the general medical notes and recommendations for each resident were given in terms of oral health maintenance with appropriate referrals for treatment needs. A literature review was performed using web-based on-line search engines to compare the oral health needs of these veterans with other non-veteran aged-care facility residents. Results: The oral health status and needs of elderly war veterans are no different to other aged-care facility residents in terms of oral hygiene needs, edentulism, dental caries and periodontal disease. Common medical conditions and medications affect both veteran and non-veteran aged-care facility residents in a similar manner. However, poor oral health status was strongly associated with significant mental illness which may be more prevalent in a veteran population and include depression, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol abuse. Conclusion: The oral health care needs of a veteran population do not differ greatly from the needs of other non-veteran aged-care facility residents but greater consideration should be given during assessment for possible service-related oral conditions and mental illness issues including PTSD and alcohol abuse.
Journal of Military and Veterans' Health
© 2010 Journal of Military and Veterans' Health. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Dentistry not elsewhere classified